Law firm profits increased in 2012, K&L Gates posts detailed financial report

K&L Gates seeks to increase transparency of financial reporting

U.S. law firms saw an increase in revenue and profits in 2012, according to an early look by Thomson Reuters at a survey by The American Lawyer. Forty-five out of 200 law firms surveyed have reported financials so far, and that data shows that the average revenue increase for firms was 6 percent, compared with 4.4 percent in 2011.

Bracewell & Giuliani in Houston saw the most growth in 2012, with a 42.2 percent increase in profits per partner, and Shook Hardy & Bacon in Kansas City saw the largest decline—a 16 percent decrease in profits per partner.

If you’re jonesing for an in-depth look at a firm’s money matters, K&L Gates has posted the full details of its 2012 finances on its website. It included numbers that most firms keep to themselves, such as its bank debt ($0) and how much partner capital it needed on hand in 2012 ($173.7 million).

K&L Gates chairman Peter Kalis said that posting the numbers was meant to increase transparency in the legal field. The Wall Street Journal reports that the American Lawyer numbers have been criticized for inaccuracy. For example, in 2011, the now-infamously bankrupt firm Dewey & LeBoeuf reported revenues of $935 million when in fact they were around 16 percent lower, at $780 million.

“In these times, opacity is not our friend,” Kalis told the WSJ. “I was embarrassed to be part of the same profession and industry as Dewey & LeBoeuf.”

 

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